When did you first meet the Rotary Cutter?

3 02 2008

While working with the blocks I posted about yesterday, it registered with my brain they were done before rotary cutters.  It’s not that those blocks are particularly crooked, but they also aren’t perfectly straight.  The blocks also remind me of my Grandma who made many quilts.  In fact the children in that family of 11 helped to quilt the quilts — they needed them for warmth.  My dad says hand quilting is easy.  Apparently he has done it, although I’ve never seen him.  I don’t think my Grandma ever used a rotary cutter.  I can’t image working on quilts without one.

largeimage-70.jpgSince I knew I made those blocks before I had ever laid eyes on a rotary cutter, I wondered when they first were introduced.  I did a search on the Internet and found that Olfa introduced the first 45mm rotary cutter in 1979. (They introduced the first snap off blade in 1956.) I didn’t meet my first rotary cutter until a few years later.

I earned my BS in Interiors and Apparel Marketing & Management at Walla Walla College (now Walla Walla University) in 1987.  My classes for my major  included sewing, clothing design, tailoring, textiles, weaving and interior design classes from the Home Ec. Dept. (Walla Walla closed the Home Ec. Dept. in 1990 or 1991), accounting, management and marketing classes from the Business Dept., Architectural Drawing from the Industrial Technology Dept., and Art History, drawing and design classes from the Art Dept.  Basically lots of classes that interested me without having to take cooking classes for a Home Ec. degree.  While this program is no longer available at Walla Walla it is still out there.  When the Home Ec. Dept. closed, the chair of the department, Merlene Olmsted, took a position with Eastern New Mexico University. She continues to work there and offer a similar program.

2007051707533472007-0220-71361.jpgThe first time I saw a rotary cutter was in a lab for either clothing design or tailoring.  It was NOT introduced by the instructor.  The lab was supplied with sewing machines and there was a drawer full of sewing tools.  We were near the end of our projects for the quarter.  Jan, a classmate, was looking through the tool drawer for one of those tracing wheels to transfer marks onto a garment.  She found the rotary cutter and assumed it was the same thing.  (Other than size, they do look similar.)  She laid everything out, opened the rotary cutter and started to “mark” the hem on her skirt.  Needless to say there was a long cut at exactly the level where she had intended to fold the hem up.  I can’t remember if she ended up in tears, but if not she was close.  The solution was a shorter skirt than she had originally planned.  If you are familiar with the tracing wheel you know it isn’t sharp at all, it was fortunate that only the skirt was cut. 

I believe I purchased my first rotary cutter during the year I worked at So Fro Fabrics, right after we were married (over 20 years ago).  It was a brown Dritz rotary cutter and it is still around here somewhere.  I now own several rotary cutters at least one in each size.  My personal favorite for most applications is the 60mm.

Do you remember when you first met a rotary cutter?

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